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Alfa Jazz Fest 2017
Avishai Cohen’s story is well known: he moved from his native Israel to New York at the age of twenty-two and, while working the club circuit, he received a phone call that changed his path ... On the other end of the line was the great Chick Corea, offering him not only a place in his trio, but a recording deal on his label, too. That was back in the 90s and seventeen albums later Cohen commands an international reputation for his own compositions, on which he blends influences from Eastern Europe, American jazz and the Middle East.
While star double bassists are few and far between in the jazz world, Cohen’s charisma makes him a natural frontman. He oscillates between an expert command of space and a muscular, forthright playing style that builds impactful hooks on a frame of endless subtlety. He sings too, often in Ladino (a Judeo-Spanish dialect), as in this concert in Ukraine, where he is supported by the Inso-Lviv Orchestra (conducted by Christian Schumann). Special mention should also go to the director, Amos Rozenberg, whose camera tilts and moves with a daring rarely seen in concert films, echoing the bend of Cohen’s double bass notes as he approaches universal themes through fresh and beguiling angles.